We included a wide range of training in the project. Some of this was already specified in the original bid, but some was in response to common interests of people on the estate and from what people told us in surveys and at events. Increasing the skills and knowledge within the community will increase its resilience and also increase people‟s confidence. It also makes people aware of the wide range of skills present in their community.
There were a lot of people on the estate willing and enthusiastic to share their skills with others. As this was really in keeping with the project‟s overarching theme of sustainability, we ran a number of “skill-share‟ events where we provided a small budget and facilitation
and each session a resident taught and shared their skills with others. We provided a small budget for materials, and these sessions covered a wide range of topics, including graphic design, film-making, applying for funding, and web skills.
There was a lot of gardening and horticultural training, based on the fact that many residents were keen gardeners and the Leaf Street Community garden was a great vehicle to get people involved. Although this training was specified within the bid, the specific courses we offered were shaped based on resident feedback. For example, many people already had a good general knowledge of gardening but wanted specific training, so we brought in experts to run sessions on specialist topics such as fruit tree grafting. On the other end of the scale, there were people who wanted to garden but didn‟t really know how, or lacked confidence.
We made sure that we also had easily accessible generalist sessions that anyone could attend with no prior knowledge.
Permaculture Design Sessions
As part of the bid, we had to help residents create a permaculture redesign of the community garden. We wanted this to be as inclusive and informative as possible, so we ran a three session course where Helene from Hulme Community Garden centre (HCGC) explained
permaculture and its principles and everyone worked on creating a new map and plan for the garden.
We ran other training on other community skills. For example, we ran training so that people could work on their website, or the community website, and gain skills and confidence in computers and the internet. Quite a few residents worked on the community radio, and this
was a good forum for discussion and information sharing, so we ran training to increase people‟s participation and knowledge. We also ran a fundraising session to increase people’s knowledge of how to apply for funding, where to look for it, and how to work with funding criteria and conditions and funders. This was to make more people able to find and apply for funding so that after the project had finished, people could continue projects and find money to take things forward. This was complemented by working with a couple of practical examples such as the Community Spaces bid.
One of the key issues to the project was working within community development values. We sought to provide training to groups and residents to increase awareness of these values and increase inclusion and participation.
Tips and advice on training sessions
Recording any training sessions can create a lasting resource and it’s a great way of sharing information; videos of our Green Zone sessions are available on this website.
With a little imagination almost any skills and knowledge can be shared.
Find out what skills people have in your community – you might be surprised – and try some skill-shares.
Training doesn’t have to costly; our skill shares had a small budget for
materials and people provided their time for free. These sessions work well in an hour and a half to two hours, with small practical projects with interactive elements.Some, more formal, skills training can be extremely cheap. Some funded projects have a remit to spread skills and can provide free or subsidised training for some of our specialist gardening training, we only had to pay transport costs for the tutors.
If there is a budget available, it can be invaluable to ‘buy in’ skills. Our community development training was more expensive than other trainings, but really helped the groups to reflect – celebrating their successes and working on any shortcomings, and also exploring group work and conflict. Residents who attended these sessions found them really valuable, so it was worth spending the extra money.